Last week Alex and I attended the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) panel on cyber bulling. I was naturally interested in attending after hearing first hand through my Mom how the use of new technology and social media is being used by her students both at school and in the home, and how those resources often have unintended negative effects.
Led by Austin ADL Community Director Karen Gross, three expert panelists spoke on the issue of cyber bullying and what they are all doing to alleviate the issue in their respective fields of education and direct intervention, school safety, and state legislation. One panelist explained at the start of the program that cyber bulling has become an issue largely because kids are inside on their phones and computers building relationships as opposed to the “old days” where kids stayed outside all day playing with others from their neighborhood. However, regardless of if cyber bullying occurs after school hours, educators and experts alike are now realizing it affects what happens in school too.
As a result, recent legislation has, among other things, adapted the definition of bullying to include cyber bullying, and has made it possible for an alleged school bully to be moved to another classroom and away from their target as opposed to the previous standard with the victim having to switch classes. It is also making school districts more apt to create lessons that teach students how to be responsible stewards and consumers of technology.
I was happy to see mostly local public school teachers and administrators in attendance, and thanks to ADL these educators can be proactive in teaching their students how to be smart users of technology.